In an effort to denounce fascism and defend lecturers’ ability to stand up for truthfulness, the University of New Hampshire’s Lecturers United (UNHLU-AAUP) released a statement on Jan. 17.
In the statement addressed to UNH President James W. Dean, Provost Wayne Jones and the editors of The New Hampshire, the union voices that while the university has been actively opposing racist behavior, they haven’t specified a basis for their positioning on the matter.
“The University of New Hampshire has recently adopted the language of Anti-Racism, but it is impossible to foster such a belief unless the University’s position is also staunchly and confrontationally Anti-Fascist,” they said. “Racism, classism, religious intolerance, and sexism are integral to the logic of the far-right. If we truly value diversity, then we must actively oppose any political position structured around inequality.”
The statement also references occasions where faculty have been urged to have deference when engaging in political and social dialogue with students, while students have not been held to the same standard by the university.
“Since the election of Donald Trump, faculty have been encouraged on multiple occasions to respect and tolerate the political positions of students that they may find reprehensible,” they said. “To our knowledge, no similar statement has been issued to the students, and the university has hosted hateful and dangerous individuals and organizations on campus.”
In addition to the alleged inequal standards, the UNHLU-AAUP stresses that faculty members across UNH, while performing the university’s provisions, have received hateful messages both in the classroom and on various places online. Their goal is to have the freedom when speaking about the world’s truths, and to not have to walk on proverbial eggshells when speaking to the very students they are paid to educate and have engaging dialogue with.
This position from the UNHLU-AAUP comes just 11 days after the U.S. Congress held a joint session to count electoral votes and confirm the results of the Nov. 6 election, a formality that has been a non-event for most of American history. The session had to be shut down, the Capitol locked down and lawmakers had to be evacuated due to a large group of pro-Trump rioters that stormed the capitol and eventually forced their way in, apparently at the behest of the president. The incident resulted in 14 Metropolitan police officers getting injured and the death four protesters, one of the being shot by an officer after refusing restraint.
In an email to students on Jan. 7, President Dean, while not addressing the UNHLU-AAUP’s specific grievance, did say that he realizes the power that truthfulness possesses within the university’s community.
“Our nation in general and our universities in particular must commit to a sincere search for truth, in the context of a swirl of untruths and half-truths, and regardless of its relationship to our political preferences,” Dean said. “At UNH and in higher education in general, we must continue our efforts to help people understand the importance of democracy, the rule of law and how to critically examine information to reach valid conclusions.”
UNH and the UNHLU-AAUP recently agreed to a new contract in April 2020 after they worked without one for nearly two years. The details of the contract can be found on their website.
Read their full statement (here).